Will a stunted economy leave us with stunted cities? Reduced building heights have become an unfortunate reality for a faltering construction industry, as architects are seeing their projects slashed in half, some mid-construction. This week it was announced that Frank Gehry (who's not having the best 80th birthday year so far) will lose the top half of his Beekman Tower, in lower Manhattan. The Forest City Ratner development will now only rise 38 stories instead of the proposed 76. The originally 1.1-million-square-foot building looks like it will only shed some of its residential floors; the bottom portion is scheduled to open in 2010 and bring a much-needed pre-K through 8 school to the area, which will supposedly still open on time.
But Gehry's lucky his building is getting finished at all, short or not. A study published yesterday noted that construction has been halted on 11% of the 1,324 tall skyscraper residential and mixed-used projects around the world as developers scramble to locate the necessary funds to top out their projects. The blog Oobject lists 15 stalled projects around the world, including Santiago Calatrava's troubled Chicago Spire. We told you before about Norman Foster's Harmon Hotel, the centerpiece of the massive MGM Mirage CityCenter development rising on the strip in Las Vegas, which suffered a height-chop from 49 stories to 28 stories (but that was also due to an engineering mistake--whoops!).
It's a far cry from just a year ago, when the Burj Dubai, now the tallest man-made structure in the world, announced it was adding floors. The Adrian Smith/SOM-designed building has topped out at an knee-weakening 160 stories (that's 2683.7 feet) and is scheduled to open in September of this year.